Title

Whose Liberty? Whose Security? The USA PATRIOT ACT in the Context of COINTELPRO and Unlawful Repression of Political Dissent

Publication Title

Oregon Law Review

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1-1-2002

Abstract

In this Essay, I hope to demonstrate that such legislation needs to be understood in the context of the United States' long history of using both the law and law enforcement agencies to repress individuals and organizations who struggle for social justice. … Despite a very constricted review which was abruptly terminated in mid-stream, the Church Committee hearings and its four-volume Final Report provide more than enough evidence to show that the FBI, the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, Army Intelligence, and numerous other federal agencies engaged in thousands of illegal and unconstitutional operations spanning several decades with the explicit intention of destroying social and political movements they considered a threat to the status quo. … Protecting national security and preventing violence are the purposes advanced by the Bureau for COINTELPRO. … Again, we see the national security being invoked to enact laws and permit executive actions which target individuals and organizations engaged in activities which may challenge the status quo, but are otherwise lawful and constitutionally protected. … As Nancy Chang notes: "Because this crime is couched in such vague and expansive terms, it is likely to be read by federal law enforcement agencies as licensing the investigation and surveillance of political activists and organizations that protest government policies, and by prosecutors as licensing the criminalization of legitimate political dissent

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Recommended Citation

Natsu Taylor Saito, Whose Liberty? Whose Security? The USA PATRIOT ACT in the Context of COINTELPRO and Unlawful Repression of Political Dissent, 81 Or. L. Rev. 1051 (2002).

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